Brian Kayes, Building Disaster Resilient Communities

Brian Kayes began his career in emergency planning in the health sector in 1988. He joined the City of Brandon in 1995 and is now the Director of Emergency Coordination.

Brian has a certificate in Occupational Health & Safety from the University of Manitoba, a Bachelor of Arts from Brandon University and a Master of Rural Development degree from Brandon University and is an Associate Business Continuity Professional. Brian believes everyone has a role to play in managing emergencies and sees public awareness as a key element in any emergency preparedness program.

The Brandon Emergency Support Team was created in 1998 with a goal of educating residents so they know what to do in an emergency. This presentation explains the formation of B.E.S.T. and its work with the community to improve preparedness. Organizational resiliency is demonstrated through discussion of a variety of ventures.

Geoff Coulson, Summer Severe Weather in the Northwest

Geoff has been a meteorologist with Environment Canada for over 25 years. Prior to his current position as a Warning Preparedness Meteorologist (WPM), he held a variety of posts within Environment Canada including operational forecaster, training and software implementation section head, aviation forecasting program supervisor and outreach program supervisor. Geoff has been a WPM since 2004 providing context and information to the media and emergency managers before, during and after severe weather events. He also coordinates the CANWARN volunteer storm spotter program in Ontario and is a member of the Ontario Provincial Flood Forecasting and Warning Committee.

Northwestern Ontario is no stranger to damaging summer storms. Recent years have seen occurrences of tornadoes, damaging windstorms, hail and flooding rains in many parts of the Northwest. Join Environment Canada Warning Preparedness Meteorologist Geoff Coulson as he talks about some of the more noteworthy summer weather events of the last number of years. Geoff will also discuss the factors that are needed for severe thunderstorms to form and how you can stay on top of developing weather situations through Environment Canada’s weather website at or its Weatheradio broadcast network.

Karen-Denise Cyr and Colleen Watts, Incident Command Systems

Are you ready? Mobilizing and Managing Volunteers for Disasters

The impact of a disaster is often so catastrophic that no level of government, community agency, organization or group can provide all of the services required. Traditionally, organizations turn to volunteers to fill these gaps in service. The challenge is mobilizing not only the current volunteer force, but being prepared to tap into the resources of networks and community volunteers that may converge upon an organization in a time of need. Screening, assessing skills for placements, and orientating volunteers in a timely way becomes paramount. The manager must have clearly defined roles for volunteers yet remain flexible to the changing dynamics of the disaster.

Using the Incident Command System (ISC), this workshop will provide guiding principles, suggested induction and screening practices and typical job descriptions for a health care setting to support disaster mitigation, preparedness, and response and recovery efforts. This workshop will also be of value to organizations from any sector engaging volunteers to support Disaster Management activities.

Ella West, Risk Management

Ms. Ella West is Director, Customer Certification and Enterprise Risk Management and the Privacy Officer for MTS Allstream. She has been with MTS Allstream, since March 2001. She is responsible for defining, deploying & managing the Customer Certification program including:

  • Customers’ requirements for information security including: policies, processes, procedures and controls;
  • SAS 70 /S.5970 audit program including scope;
  • Customer compliance requirements with respect to other standards and certifications (such as ISO, PIPEDA, ITIL, COBIT) to meet contractual requirements.

Since joining MTS Allstream in 2001, she has worked with a wide variety of quality initiatives including developing a Balanced Scorecard and Customer Driven Enterprise Process Model. Prior to joining Allstream, Ms. West was Operations Leader and Quality Leader for APW (Allied Power) Milton operation, producing ATM machines for the Banking industry. Ms West also gained experience in Process and Software Management in the Computer Industry in the 11 years spent at Westinghouse Canada as Quality Manager for the Defence Industry Arm.

Ms. West has been a volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross for 25 years; Ella is an Instructor Trainer for Canadian Red Cross Disaster Management and is an active member of the Disaster Response Team. She has deployed in Disaster Management as Team Leader and Operations Leader in Canada, United States and most recently in Sri Lanka (for the Tsunami).

Ella West, Emergency Lodging, Shelter Management

The objective of the Emergency Lodging service is to provide, as quickly as possible, safe, temporary lodging to persons in need of this service in a disaster or emergency.
After taking this workshop, participants will understand the significance of:

  • The emergency lodging service and the services/roles required to support it.
  • The procedures required to obtain and organize the lodging facility, human and material resources.
  • Adherence to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) guidelines for the emergency lodging service.
  • The establishment and maintenance of accurate records and appropriate reports.
  • Collaboration with stakeholders and partners to ensure and effective lodging service.

John M. Saunders, Partners in Preparedness

John Saunders has been the Canadian Red Cross Ontario Director of Disaster Management & International Response for the past four years. As the Provincial Director, John oversees disaster preparedness, prevention, mitigation, relief and recovery efforts within the province of Ontario. He is tasked to lead program development and is responsible for the overall management of these areas.

John gained a wealth of experience in Emergency Medicine and Emergency Management during his years as a paramedic in Massachusetts and training with the US Coast Guard’s Search & Rescue team.

Prior to joining the Red Cross, John was a private consultant in Toronto with a primary focus on business continuity planning, Health & Safety and corporate emergency plan development.

John’s consulting business allowed him to serve as a disaster response volunteer for close to five years prior to selling his business to join the Red Cross as a staff member. In his work with the Red Cross and with other organizations, he has been involved in the response to 9/11, SARS, several American Hurricanes, the Peterborough flood, multiple evacuations of First Nation Communities and was provincial lead in the coordination of the receiving of Canadians fleeing from the conflict in Lebanon/Israel (summer of 2006). He was also the Red Cross EOC Manager during the initial response to the 2004 Tsunami.

John has been actively engaged in the continuing development of the Emergency Management profession, working with the International Association of Emergency Managers as well as being a subject matter expert on the Advisory Committee for the development of the CSA Emergency Management Standard Z1600.

During his tenure as Provincial Director, he has focused on internal capacity building and the strengthening of key provincial relationships. John has also been a strong advocate and leader for the consideration of those with special needs and vulnerable populations in respect to emergency planning and response.

W. A. (Bill) Blackborow, Suzanne Bernier, CEM, CBCP, “Are You Truly Ready”?

W.A. (Bill) Blackborow is the President and CEO, Municipal Health and Safety Association. Bill’s career includes progressive Leadership roles in Operations, Human Resources and Health and Safety. These roles have been held in both National and International Organizations that span Manufacturing, the Industrial Service Sector and Health Care (British Columbia). In parallel with his career, Bill progressed through the volunteer structure of the Industrial Accident Prevention Association (IAPA) and is a past member and Chair of the IAPA Board of Directors. Along with his current role as President and CEO, Municipal Health and Safety Association, Bill is an executive member of the Ontario Health and Safety Council of Ontario (OHSCO).

OHSCO is comprised of leadership personnel from the WSIB, Ministry of Labour, the Health and Safety Associations and the Institute for Work and Health. Bill is a recognized speaker has presented at Conferences across Canada, throughout the United States and in Hong Kong China. Bill has been married to Diane for thirty seven years, and they continue to enjoy their family life with their four children.

In Mr. Blackborow’s presentation, he will cover many of the threats we face each day, both natural and man made. He will discuss the various scenarios we know about but also add a different twist by addressing the safety needs of the responders. During Mr. Blackborow’s introduction, he will also cover the Province’s Prevention System update with respect to focus areas from the WSIB, Ministry of Labour and the Health and Safety Associations.

Suzanne Bernier, CEM, CBCP
Suzanne has recently returned from New York City, where she was commissioned by the United Nations Headquarters to develop and run the first joint pandemic tabletop exercise for all New York-based UN organizations.

In her normal role as Emergency Management Program Coordinator for Ontario’s Workplace Safety & Insurance Board, she developed and continues to lead the organization’s Business Continuity, Emergency Management and Pandemic plans and programs.

Suzanne has been internationally recognized for her work in helping organizations plan for a possible pandemic, and has been a guest speaker on pandemic planning at conferences across Canada, the US and Europe.

Since 2007, Suzanne has been a volunteer with the “Continuity Cares” rebuilding initiative in New Orleans, returning annually to help rebuild local fire halls and residential homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Suzanne has worked in the field of emergency management for over 12 years, having worked for Emergency Management Ontario, Ontario Power Generation and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and is a member of Canada’s National Council on Emergency Management. She is also one of a select few Canadians to receive dual designation as Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) through the International association of Emergency Managers, and Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP) through Disaster Recovery Institute International.

In 1997, Suzanne became Ontario’s first female Emergency Management Field Officer for Emergency Management Ontario (EMO). While at EMO, she helped design, control, evaluate and participated in numerous international, federal, provincial and municipal disaster exercises. She also responded to real emergencies across the province, where she participated as a member of the Control Group at various federal, provincial and municipal Emergency Operations Centres. In recognition of her response work during the 1998 Ice Storm in Eastern Ontario, Suzanne received the Amethyst Award for Outstanding Achievement on behalf of the Government of Ontario.

Ralph Wheeler, Program Partnerships

Ralph Wheeler is the current Director of the Aviation and Forest Fire Management Branch (AFFMB). Since joining the OPS in 1978, Ralph has held a variety of leadership positions including Manager of Boreal Science and Operations Manager, Northwest Region, and became AFFMB Director in January 2007. Ralph’s extensive career with MNR includes experience in the areas of environmental assessment, enforcement, compliance, human resources, asset management, finance and administration, research, science and transfer services. He is a graduate of Sir Sandford Fleming College.

As Director for AFFM, Ralph is responsible for the development and delivery of Ministry of Natural Resources fire management, aviation services and emergency management program through a decentralized infrastructure across northern and south/central Ontario.

Ralph will provide a thought provoking keynote address that focuses on the Ministry of Natural Resources Emergency Management Program.

Captain Al Haynes, The Story of Flight 232

Captain Al Haynes was born in Paris, Texas and raised in Dallas. He attended Texas A&M College before joining the Naval Aviation Cadet Training program in 1952. He was released from the service in 1956 after serving as a Marine Aviator. He joined United Airlines that year as a flight engineer and served in that capacity until his promotion to first officer in 1963. He flew the DC-6, DC-7, DC-8, Boeing 727, and DC-10. Al was promoted to captain in 1985 and flew the Boeing 727 and DC-10 up to his retirement in August 1991, accumulating over 27,000 hours of flight time. Al has been a volunteer umpire for Little League Baseball for the past 36 years and a stadium announcer for high school football for the past 30 years.

The Story of Flight 232
Quote: “That 184 people survived the crash landing of United 232 can be attributed to five main factors: Luck, Communications, Preparation, Execution, and Cooperation.”

Captain Al Haynes is one of the most in-demand speakers today. He has spoken to over a thousand audiences. Now retired from the airlines, his travel itinerary for speaking is possibly more grueling than that of an airline pilot.

Who Should Attend

  • Emergency Preparedness Partners
  • First Responders
  • Elected Officials
  • Safety Officers
  • Business
  • Health Professional
  • Educators
  • Policy Makers
  • Non-Governmental Organizations

Training Opportunities

Conference delegates have the benefit of choosing the training opportunity that best meets their needs, options include:

Pre-Conference Workshop:

  • All My Relations: Indigenous Worldview Education Session

Selection of Training Opportunities offered:

  • Command Quest: Interactive Emergency Management Scenario
  • Navigating the Road to Mental Readiness
  • IMS 100: Introduction to Incident Management System (OFMEM)


To become a sponsor, please visit the Sponsors page for more information.


To become an exhibitor, please visit the Trade Show page for more information


The Northwest Response Forum is offering a Hospitality Sponsorship Opportunity to one company on the evening of “Day Two”. This exclusive partnership will give your company with all the profile and prestige leading up to and at the event through the following value added advertising benefits:

  • Display of your corporate logo on Canadian Red Cross, City of Dryden, and conference web site
  • Opportunity to display your company banner at the event
  • Inclusion of one promotional insert in all delegate registration bags, corporate logo displayed on back of all delegate bags
  • Inclusion of one half page ad dedicated to your company in conference program
  • Inclusion of “tent” cards at all tables during the hospitality event featuring your logo and special message from senior managment
  • Opportunity for company representative to give remarks at hospitality event
  • One complimentary (1) registration to conference
  • One exhibit space at 50% off the regular fee
  • Plaque of appreciation